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Member since: Wed Feb 10, 2010, 12:51 AM
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Debt mountains spark fears of another financial crisis

Source: Financial Times

The world is awash with more debt than before the global financial crisis erupted in 2007, with China’s debt relative to its economic size now exceeding US levels, according to a report.

Global debt has increased by $57tn since 2007 to almost $200tn — far outpacing economic growth, calculates McKinsey & Co, the consultancy. As a share of gross domestic product, debt has risen from 270 per cent to 286 per cent.

McKinsey’s survey of debt across 47 countries — illustrated in an FT interactive graphic — highlights how hopes that the turmoil of the past eight years would spur widespread “deleveraging” to safer levels of indebtedness were misplaced. The report calls for “fresh approaches” to preventing future debt crises.

“Overall debt relative to gross domestic product is now higher in most nations than it was before the crisis,” McKinsey reports. “Higher levels of debt pose questions about financial stability.”

Read more: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2554931c-ac85-11e4-9d32-00144feab7de.html

Add to this the same financial instruments that buried the world economy in 2008 are BACK.

Democracy now - Is Ukraine a Proxy Western-Russia War?

Here is the video from youtube:

Is Ukraine a Proxy Western-Russia War?

The Propaganda War Over Crimea's Break From Ukraine - Truthout

*A very good read for those who want to understand the fact from fiction on Crimea (Ukraine conflict)


The Propaganda War Over Crimea's Break From Ukraine
By Roger Annis,
Truthout | News Analysis

Defence Ministers working session at the NATO summit in Wales. (Photo: NATO Summit Wales 2014)

In the propaganda campaign being waged by the NATO countries and the government of Ukraine against Russia and in support of Kiev's war in the east of the country, the events in Crimea of the past nine months occupy a pivotal place.


NATO might be upsetting the entire military and political balance of Europe by continuing to push eastward today in Ukraine, but the drumbeat of Western government and media propaganda claims the heightened tensions of this past year are all Russia's fault. Russia's supposed annexation of Crimea in March is the example par excellence that a new "Russian aggression," harkening back to Soviet Union times, is afoot. It must be stopped at all costs before Ukraine falls, too.

In this made-up world, Kiev's murderous, illegal war against its own population disappears. The war is an "ongoing conflict" between "armed groups" in which the only actors with a purpose, it seems, are "pro-Russian separatists" and their purported backer in Moscow. An emerging subset of the theme of Crimea as victim of annexation is that it's also a land of disappearing human rights.

Given the very high stakes involved in all of this for the future of Europe, if not the world, it is time to step back and examine what is actually taking place in Crimea.

Fact From Fiction

Full story:

Howard Zinn: A Just Cause (does not equal) A Just War

(Very interesting talk by Zinn in 2009. Keep in Mind this is a Philosophical discussion, not an argument, to keep our minds open and consider options when we discuss war and it's real value). I am posting a longer excerpt as since it is a transcript of his speech it is fair use, but still the Progressive has the entire speech which is well worth reading)

A Just Cause ≠ A Just War
Howard Zinn
The Progressive


Editor's Note: Today we remember our legendary columnist Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States and champion of pacifism, civil rights, and the voices of the marginalized. On this fifth anniversary of his death in January 27, 2010, we present a classic essay on nonviolence adapted from his speech on May 2, 2009, at The Progressive’s 100th anniversary conference.

I want to talk about three holy wars. They aren’t religious wars, but they’re the three wars in American history that are sacrosanct, that you can’t say anything bad about: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II.

Let’s look carefully at these three idealized, three romanticized wars.

It’s important to at least be willing to raise the possibility that you could criticize something that everybody has accepted as uncriticizable.

We’re supposed to be thinking people. We’re supposed to be able to question everything.

There are things that happen in the world that are bad, and you want to do something about them. You have a just cause. But our culture is so war prone that we immediately jump from “This is a good cause” to “This deserves a war.”

You need to be very, very comfortable in making that jump.

You might say it was a good cause to get Spain out of Cuba in 1898. Spain was oppressing Cuba. But did that necessarily mean we needed to go to war against Spain? We have to see what it produced. We got Spain out of oppressing Cuba and got ourselves into oppressing Cuba.

You might say that stopping North Korea from invading South Korea was a good idea. The North Koreans shouldn’t have done that. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t right. Does that mean we should have gone to war to stop it? Especially when you consider that two or three million Koreans died in that war? And what did the war accomplish? It started off with a dictatorship in South Korea and a dictatorship in North Korea. And it ended up, after two to three million dead, with a dictatorship in South Korea and a dictatorship in North Korea.

The American Revolution—independence from England—was a just cause. Why should the colonists here be oppressed by England? But therefore, did we have to go to the Revolutionary War?

I’d be very careful about rushing from one thing to another, from just cause to just war.

How many people died in the Revolutionary War?

Nobody ever knows exactly how many people die in wars, but it’s likely that 25,000 to 50,000 people died in this one. So let’s take the lower figure—25,000 people died out of a population of three million. That would be equivalent today to two and a half million people dying to get England off our backs.

You might consider that worth it, or you might not.

Canada is independent of England, isn’t it? Not a bad society. Canadians have good health care. They have a lot of things we don’t have. They didn’t fight a bloody revolutionary war. Why do we assume that we had to fight a bloody revolutionary war to get rid of England?

Full text at the Progressive

The Meme of “Russian Aggression”

The BBC's Drums of War
The Meme of “Russian Aggression”

“Russian aggression” is the BBC’s meme of the day. I lost count of how many times the phrase popped up in the first 15 minutes of Radio 4’s World at One programme, devoted entirely to the ‘Russian problem – but the theme was drummed in relentlessly.

The idea is that Russia presents a huge a growing threat to world peace and stability. Russian bombers are threatening the ‘English’ Channel (albeit strictly from international airspace). Russia is an expansionist power attacking sovereign nations, Ukraine in particular. And watch it – we’re next!

Commentators wheeled into the studio were unanimous in their views. NATO must stand up to the threat. Presient Vladimir Putin is a dangerous monster who refuses to abide by the rules of the international order. NATO countries must increase their defence spending to counter the Russian menace.

Not a single moderating voice was included in the discussion. No one to ask Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, if alliance aircraft ever fly close to Russia’s borders (they do). No one to point out that the real Ukrainian narrative in is not that of Russia’s ‘annexation’ of Crimea – but of NATO’s US-led annexation of Ukraine itself.

No one to argue that Russia’s assimilation of Crimea was effected with hardly a shot being fired, backed by overwhelming support in a referendum which reflected the popular will – and if you’re in any doubt, just compare it to Israel’s ongoing and endlessly justified annexation of Palestine.

The lies are in what the media don’t tell us


Pay Per Vote: the Wave of the Future?

Cut Out the Political Middlemen!
Pay Per Vote: the Wave of the Future?

American voters don’t come cheap. Seven billion dollars were spent on the 2012 election to influence the 117 million people who turned out to vote. That’s about $60 per voter. What an inefficient and costly system! How archaic!

Think of the many terrific advantages in skipping the middlemen and paying each voter directly. Two are obvious: It would be much cheaper for the donors. It would vastly increase the voter participation rate. Imagine all those stay-at-homes who would be happy to earn, say, $25 for just taking a quick trip to the local poll. At $25 per voter, that would save the donors more than three billion dollars.

And the remaining four billion dollars spent on the election would go directly to the people, especially folks who really need it, instead of to the media and the politicians. Although this would be just a modest step toward directly decreasing inequality, it would be adding a significant addition to consumer purchasing power, thus stimulating the economy and creating jobs.

Besides the obvious savings, donors would not have to keep giving money to politicians in between campaigns, and expensive lobbying would be a thing of the past. Ideally, elected representatives and other officials would wear the logos of the corporations or individuals whose funds had bought their election.

Eliminating election advertising would be a boon to the quality of media content. Since the money would not be going directly to the politicians, they could be honest—in fact would have to be honest—about whom they really represent. Thus dishonesty and bogus promises would no longer be the hallmark of our political culture.


The European Union May Be on the Verge of Collapse

The European Union May Be on the Verge of Collapse

The complex federal project of the EU has proven fragile in the absence of a strong external threat.
John Feffer
January 27, 2015


Europe won the Cold War.

Not long after the Berlin Wall fell a quarter of a century ago, the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States squandered its peace dividend in an attempt to maintain global dominance and Europe quietly became more prosperous, more integrated and more of a player in international affairs. Between 1989 and 2014, the European Union (EU) practically doubled its membership and catapulted into third place in population behind China and India. It currently boasts the world’s largest economy and also heads the list of global trading powers. In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for transforming Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

In the competition for “world’s true superpower,” China loses points for still having so many impoverished peasants in its rural hinterlands and a corrupt, illiberal bureaucracy in its cities; the United States, for its crumbling infrastructure and a hypertrophied military-industrial complex that threatens to bankrupt the economy. As the only equitably prosperous, politically sound and rule-of-law-respecting superpower, Europe comes out on top, even if—or perhaps because—it doesn’t have the military muscle to play global policeman.

And yet, for all this success, the European project is currently teetering on the edge of failure. Growth is anemic at best and socio-economic inequality is on the rise. The countries of Eastern and Central Europe, even relatively successful Poland, have failed to bridge the income gap with the richer half of the continent. And the highly indebted periphery is in revolt.


Teenage warriors prepare for battle as part of Right Sector's Ukrainian Volunteer Corps

Teenage warriors prepare for battle as part of Right Sector's Ukrainian Volunteer Corps
Kyiv Post
Jan. 27, 2015, 4:57 p.m. | Ukraine — by Stefan Huijboom

Young men and teenagers as young as 16 are being recruited to fight against Russia in the eastern Donbas. This group is part of the ultranationalist Right Sector's Ukrainian Volunteer Corps.

As a misty wet snow falls on the slippery streets of Kyiv, a group of young men stand outside a building, some smoking cigarettes and most wearing camouflage clothes.

These young men have signed up for the DUK Battalion, or Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, a fighting force affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) group.

As they line up in front of the building, their group leader is shouting at them to hurry up. They are waiting for their bus that will escort them to a training camp some 50 miles outside of Kyiv. There, they will be trained to go to war.

Among these men is 16-year-old Andriy, who does not want to give his last name because some members of his family don’t know about his plans to fight as a volunteer in eastern Ukraine.


Kiev ‘punishes’ civilians in Donetsk with travel permits and drugs blockade

Kiev ‘punishes’ civilians in Donetsk with travel permits and drugs blockade
Shaun Walker in Donetsk

Ukrainians in disputed areas suffer as Kiev restricts access to food, electricity and medicines

Patients at a hospital in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on Monday. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

As the conflict in East Ukraine enters another hot phase, residents of the rebel-controlled territories say they are now stranded due to a new travel permit system introduced by Kiev, while aid organisations have warned that a medical crisis could be on the horizon as Ukrainian authorities refuse to let through vital medicines.

“Since November, a series of measures taken by the Ukrainian government has effectively cut off civilians living in rebel-controlled areas and made it increasingly difficult to provide humanitarian aid,” said a statement by Médecins sans Frontières. The organisation said it had tried to deliver medical supplies to hospitals in the frontline city of Gorlovka on two occasions last week and failed to get through.

The situation will only be exacerbated by a permit system introduced last week, requiring anyone who wants to cross the line between Ukrainian-controlled territories and the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics to apply for a special pass. Applications are only accepted in Ukrainian-held territory, with the catch-22 situation that those in rebel-held territories cannot get to the permit application centre because they need a permit to get there.

Oleg Izmailov, a local journalist, called the new system “both idiotic and a breach of human rights”.

The only option for residents of Donetsk and other rebel-held towns to obtain the permit is to drive to the first Ukrainian checkpoint and hand over the application to soldiers, explaining their reasons for wanting a permit. However, the soldiers only accept a few applications per hour, meaning people wait for hours in the cold to hand over the documents, and then have to drive back 10 days later to find out if they have been granted permission. On Monday morning there was heavy shelling around the checkpoint, forcing cars to turn back to Donetsk.

Full Story:

Et Tu, Frontline?

OpEdNews Op Eds 1/25/2015 at 15:30:48
Et Tu, Frontline?
By Patrice Greanville

Putin by DonkeyHotey (via flickr)

Hatchet job on Putin only demonstrates the conformist spirit permeating US journalism


Frontline sees itself as an implacable observer of political and social reality, an uncompromising witness to contemporary history. The truth is often a lot less flattering.

As a legendary liberal franchise, Frontline has frequently produced interesting and even controversial reports on a variety of topics, including the NRA's intransigence to gun control, the abortion wars, JFK's assassination, the modern KKK, "Bush's War" (somewhat critical of the Iraq War's genesis as something of a botched, incompetent affair, but not scandalized by its sheer immorality, arrogance, systemic roots or broader purposes), and a host of other issues, but when it comes to foreign policy questions in which the American empire is again competing with some invidiously designated foe (these days the villains are again Russia and China), it behaves, conceits aside, like the rest of the conformist pack, as little more than an stenographer to power.

Given that thinly-veiled script, it doesn't take long for the show to deliver an unrelenting cascade of innuendo against Putin. Apparently the show's producers could not refrain from vacuuming up and regurgitating just about every negative cliche disseminated by the Western media since the official demonization of the Russian leader began, except that in this case, Frontline being Frontline, the closest equivalent to the New York Times on television, the weapon of choice is not so much the bludgeon favored by Fox News' crude propagandists, but the scalpel and the stiletto, the half-truths and omissions of truth, and the decapitation of context, in short the far more subtle, insidious and highly effective natural tools of the centrist corporatist liberal.

The first few minutes set the tone:

ANDREY ZYKOV, Former Police Investigator: [through interpreter] Well, of course, there has always been corruption in Russia, but building it into such a meticulous system was something only Mr. Putin has managed to do. Could Putin be held criminally responsible based on the evidence that has already been gathered? Absolutely, yes.

From that point on, it only gets worse.

Students of American propaganda usually have a problem: not the scarcity of items to prove their case, but precisely the opposite, the overabundance of material. Practically everything said or shown on mainstream media that concerns American foreign policy, especially on television, is riddled with so much bias and outright falsehood that codifying and answering such outrages on a case by case basis is simply an impossible, gargantuan task, a fact that --besides their monopolizing the mainstream media--prevents any meaningful or timely response by genuinely impartial observers.

Full story, links, and transcript:
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